Man-Made Monster Review

Man Made Monster

You know, it was really hard to find a sci-fi movie for the 40s (especially as I’m saving the classic Universal monster movies for a much later marathon), I guess they had other things on their mind during a lot of the decade! Anyway, Man-Made Monster is where I’ve landed, a less talked about and obviously far less iconic Universal movie, but one that ticks all the boxes for what you want out of them. Let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

A tragic accident occurs when a bus hits a high power line. The incident has claimed the lives of all on board, except for one Dan McCormick, who survives because he is, surprisingly, immune to the deadly electricity. Dan is taken in by Dr. John Lawrence, who wants to study him, however Dr. Lawrence’s colleague Dr. Rigas has other, more sinister things in mind…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Man Made Monster 3

“I was worried you were some sort of mad scientist, but I see with this set up I was clearly wrong.”

Dan McCormick (Lon Chaney Jr.) – Also known as “Dynamo Dan, the Electric Man”, he does a sideshow based around his ability to survive electric blasts. His gift will soon become a curse though, as often happens…

Dr. Paul Rigas (Lionel Atwill) – Dr. Rigas is your classic mad scientist, wishing to use Dan’s electricity resistance for his own twisted scheme, but first he must learn what the man’s limits are…

Dr. John Lawrence (Samuel S. Hinds) – Dr. Lawrence is genuinely interested in Dan’s abilities, and wishes to help him why calmly studying him… Maybe he should have paid more attention to his collogue instead…

June Lawrence (Anne Nagel) – The niece of John Lawrence, June is blatantly hanging around purely so she can be captured by the titular Man-Man Monster…

Mark Adams (Frank Albertson) – Mark Adams is a reporter who wants the big scoop on the electric man, though I bet he soon wishes he had left it be…

Plus more!

The Good:

Man Made Monster 4

Not bad special effects at all, given the time period!

At 59 minutes the film doesn’t hang around. It’s not long before we see the bus crash, and then we’re pretty much straight into the lab to get introduced to our mad scientist. We then get taken on a roller coaster of experiments, innocent people getting zapped by the titular “monster”, then its seemingly over until Dan McCormick is revived on the electric chair and we get more classic clichés and the big villain death pay-off before the film comes to a close. It’s fun, and doesn’t let itself slow down.

I may be a “newb” when it comes to Universal Horror, but even I know about Lon Chaney Jr. and his now-iconic portrayal of the Wolf Man, so it was good to see him here in an admittedly similar role. Once again he’s a really nice guy who gets tricked and transformed into an unstoppable monster, and you really do feel sorry for him. Early in the experiments Dr. Rigas mentions how he’s enjoying the electric blasts and Dan agrees, saying that they make him feel strong but they last so briefly that he feels weak otherwise. It really is like Rigas was getting him hooked on his drug so he can continue to use him. The glowing effects when McCormick becomes out-of-control are actually good, given we’re talking about the 40s here, and it was fun seeing him kill people via a single touch.

The twist that he’s “defeated” and sent to the electric chair, only for everything to go wrong again is a fun one, leading to him putting on a rubber suit and gaining more control over himself, allowing him to kill Rigas and take the girl, until just running out of power and dying. It’s a tragic end, as so many of  these kind of things are…

Dr. Rigas is a good, proper old fashioned mad scientist, Dr. Lawrence is your classic plain speaking nice guy who can tell the audience what’s going on, and June is your super-stereotypical helpless woman in a white dress that gets carried away into the woods by the creature. I don’t know when I’ll get around to watching through the classic Universal Horror stuff, but I’m looking forward to seeing where all these clichés began from…

The Bad:

Man Made Monster 2

“What do you mean “Mad”? I’m clearly in complete control of myself…”

Not much bad, though a lot of it is just Frankenstein re-hashed, apparently literally in some establishing shots that were just taken from that film and reused! Metal slab, crazy scientist, monster walking off into the forest with woman, the monster is a tragic, misunderstood figure. All that stuff. Now I have watched the original Frankenstein, but it was a long time ago, so it didn’t bother me (not to mention given some of the stuff I watch, genre tropes being repeated being a negative would mean I’d hate everything) but I thought I’d mention it.

It’s kind of too short to be bad, it doesn’t allow itself time to be boring, though also doesn’t allow itself time to do anything new within the genre it’s in…

Overall Thoughts:

Man Made Monster 1

He’s fine, just feeling a little… LIGHT HEADED! Ha! …. No, you’re right, that wasn’t funny. Sorry.

Man-Made Monster is a bit of fun. For an hour you get a greatest hits version of an old style horror film, complete with the classic clichés, known cast and standard storylines. It’s hard to be too hard on it for that, but I will admit to not seeing myself ever watching it again. It was fun but far to generic to warrant a re-watch, and due to this, it gets a three, but I’d recommend you give it a watch if you have an hour and nothing else to do…

3 Star Watch

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